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TM goes fully mobile for £5 Four Tet shows

Marking the first major UK deployment of its new mobile platform, Ticketmaster has partnered with Four Tet and promoter Eat Your Own Ears to power ticketing for the acclaimed British DJ’s return to Brixton Academy this autumn.

Four Tet – real name Kieran Hebden – announced yesterday that his traditional autumn all-nighters, preceded by two live shows, would return to the 4,921-capacity O2 Academy Brixton from 10 to 13 October. With tickets for all four nights priced at just £5, Ticketmaster is combining 100% digital ticketing with its Verified Fan technology – which uses “algorithms and unique data analysis” to weed out bad actors, such as ticket touts and bots, from the presale – to ensure all tickets get into the hands of “genuine fans” at the price intended.

The Four Tet shows, says Ticketmaster UK MD Andrew Parsons, are intended to be “a celebration, a party, with the artist giving back to the audience – and the pricing fits with that ethos. So for us, it was about how best to be able to deliver that.”

“Kieran, aka Four Tet, was inspired by a Fugazi show he went to in 1995 at Brixton Academy and paid £5,” says Eat Your Own Ears’ Tom Baker, commenting on the inspiration for the event. “They played with all the house lights on and Kieran wanted to replicate this. I said, perhaps at 4.33am people won’t want to be staring each other in the face with bright lights glaring into their faces, so why don’t we do the £5 ticket at Brixton Academy club shows in the dark…”

“We’ve worked with Tom for as long as I can remember, and this string of shows at Brixton Academy is just another example of their innovative approach,” adds Parsons. “We’ve both got the same goal here – to get fans in the door at £5 – and I’m pleased to say Ticketmaster has the technology to do just that. ”

“The future is definitely digital”

Contrary to much of the non-industry media’s coverage of Verified Fan – most notably around the onsale for Taylor Swift’s Reputation stadium tour last summer, which allowed fans to boost their chance of a ticket by buying albums or merch – the system is, “at its essence, the invitation [to buy tickets], the presale and the weeding out of bad actors,” Parsons tells IQ. While Swift-style boosts may be built into the platform, they aren’t a requirement, he says: “It’s about making sure we go on sale on sale with a clean list and ensure we are selling directly to fans.”

It’s still “comparatively early” days for Verified Fan in the UK, Parsons continues, though TM has already seen success with the platform for several high-profile club shows, including Harry Styles and Jack White at the Eventim Apollo in London.

The second, and arguably more important, aspect for the Four Tet dates is the mobile one: All tickets are digital and – similarly to platforms such as Dice – are tied to the mobile device from which they’re purchased, making resale for profit impossible. (They can, however, be transferred to a friend using the buyer’s Ticketmaster account.)

“It’s something we’ve been building up to for a while,” continues Parsons, who says the new mobile ticketing functionality is part of a “whole host of changes” the company has been making to its core product over the past 18 months, including a more editorially focused homepage, a new responsive check-out process and – most significantly – folding all ticket resale into Ticketmaster proper, following the shutdown of Get Me In! and Seatwave.

“There’s a huge opportunity in tying tickets to mobiles and taking away those little pieces of paper,” he adds. “Fans are ready for it, artists and promoters are fully on board… It’s really going to be ramping up in the coming months.”

“There’s a huge opportunity in tying tickets to mobiles and taking away those little pieces of paper”

As for the multi-step process of becoming a ‘verified fan’, is Ticketmaster worried it’s becoming too difficult to simply log on and buy a ticket for a show? “Everything we do is about balance,” suggests Parsons. “All the work we’ve done with Verified Fan so far shows we can do it in a very slick way – with artist engagement, we can spread the net as wide as possible – and if you speak to fans about whether or not it’s a good thing, they’re very supportive of it.

“The fans really appreciate the artist going the extra mile.”

“I think the future is definitely digital,” adds Baker. “Everyone uses their phones now for almost everything they do, and that will just get more and more easy as venues and promoters and ticket agents all embrace this technology. I think it makes it so much smoother for all involved, and cuts out touts, with the money going to the artists – and fans aren’t unfairly paying over-inflated prices.

“It’s a win win for everyone and I’ll certainly be looking to use both Verified Fan and digital ticketing for more and more Eat Your Own Ears shows.”

 


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Fans show up to Shawn Mendes concert a year early

Some eager fans of Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes were left disappointed last week after they arrived at the Pittsburgh PPG Paints Arena only to find out the 6 August performance was actually scheduled for 2019.

As reported by Ticket News, fans took to Twitter to point out their mistake. Father of seven Bob Rice shared a picture of himself and his family outside the venue, saying: “We got tickets for the Shawn Mendes concert on August 6. However, getting here we realised it was for 2019.

“And we weren’t the only ones! We will be back next year!”

Other fans who had travelled from further afield were more reluctant to see the humour in their mixup. “Sooooo [sic] @ShawnMendes I appreciate you selling your 2019 tour tickets this early, but my friends and I all just drove 6 hrs to Pittsburgh to the PPG Paints Arena to see you in concert, a YEAR in advance,” one fan tweeted.

The mixup is the consequence of Mendes using the increasingly popular “slow ticketing” method for selling seats for his upcoming 2019 concerts. In a bid to keep tickets out of the hands of touts and in the hands of real fans, ticketers are turning to slow ticketing as a means to stop tickets selling out in seconds and reappearing shortly after on secondary ticketing websites for extortionate prices.

“Sooooo [sic] @ShawnMendes I appreciate you selling your 2019 tour tickets this early, but my friends and I all just drove 6 hrs to Pittsburgh to the PPG Paints Arena to see you in concert, a YEAR in advance”

Slow ticketing sees more charged for tickets, in the hopes this will put touts off of buying them because of the smaller profit margins. By beginning onsales earlier, ticketers ensure there is ample time for tickets to still sell out.

For his 2019 self-titled tour, Mendes also used Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan scheme. Fans who are in the market to buy tickets give over their names, contact details and social media handles so that they can be verified as humans, not ticket bots. They’re then put on a list to buy tickets, which they “push” to the front of by buying “day-one” access, merch and music from the artist.

 


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Another year of record growth for Live Nation

As predicted by CEO Michael Rapino in November, Live Nation Entertainment has posted a seventh consecutive year of record-breaking growth, turning over nearly an extra US$2bn – a remarkable 24% increase in revenue – in 2017.

Speaking to investors yesterday, Rapino (pictured) said he sees “strong growth for years” in the global concert market, of which Live Nation is by far the biggest player, “as fans globally drive demand, artists are touring more, and sponsorship and ticketing benefit from the concerts flywheel”.

That value of that flywheel grew even more, with LN’s concerts division worth $7.9bn (up 26%) in 2017, while concert attendance – from a reported 30,000 shows in 40 countries – grew 21% to 86 million. “Given our plans to further monetise our fan relationships, I expect this will translate into a continued strong growth in concerts AOI [adjusted operating income] in 2018,” said Rapino.

Across the company as a whole – including sponsorship and ticketing (Ticketmaster) – revenue was up 24%, AOI up 15% and free cash flow up 21%, with all delivering their strongest-ever AOI results.

Losses did, however, widen in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2017, as a result of the company’s $110m legal settlement with Songkick.

Among Ticketmaster’s greatest successes in 2017, continued Rapino, was the introduction of the Verified Fan initiative, which aims to verify the ticket-buyer is a genuine “fan” by asking them to register for a presale in advance, then emailing codes to buyers it predicts will use the ticket rather than resell it.

“In 2018, I expect us to further consolidate our global concerts position”

“Through the year, we worked with over 80 artists on Verified Fan, selling three million tickets and saving fans over $100 million relative to what they would have spent on the secondary market to buy these tickets,” he said. “As we look to 2018, it will continue to be a top priority to evolve Verified Fan, while also building out a full suite of services that continue to give artists greater control of how their tickets are priced and distributed.”

However, “at the same time,” Rapino continued, “we’ve also continued to improve our marketplace, already by far the largest ticketing marketplace in the world. We remain focused on building the inventory available to fans, adding new clients and expanding our secondary listings.”

Looking ahead to 2018, Rapino expects Live Nation “to further consolidate our global concerts position while enhancing our on-site hospitality business and capturing additional pricing opportunities.

“We believe that our sponsorship business will continue driving double-digit growth as more brands look for that direct connection with music fans. And a more effective Ticketmaster marketplace, along with further alignment with artists, should continue to build on Ticketmaster’s success.”

“The combination of macro trends and our demonstrated ability to execute provide great confidence in our ability to grow the business for many years to come,” he concluded.

 


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Look what you made her do: T-Swift in new TM blitz

Taylor Swift has filed a slew of new trademark registrations ahead of her impending fifth concert tour.

The US superstar, who is selling the first batch of tickets via Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan rewards programme, is expected to hit the road again next year in support of upcoming album Reputation (pictured). Swift’s last tour, the 1989 world tour, grossed more than US$250 million between May and December 2015, according to promoter AEG/Messina Touring Group.

New United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO) trademark/servicemark applications by Swift’s Nashville-based TAS Rights Management company include character marks for “LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO” and “THE OLD TAYLOR CAN’T COME TO THE PHONE RIGHT NOW” – both phrases from her record-breaking new single, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ – and the word “REPUTATION” itself.

All applications apply to a range of tour-ready merchandise, including men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, jewellery, stationery, homewares, beach towels, guitar plectra and more.

Swift embarked on a similar run of new registrations in advance of the 1989 tour, applying for some 37 new marks, in what one trademark lawyer called the singer “marking her territory”.

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons in June abandoned a USPTO application to trademark the devil’s horns gesture – specifically “a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular” – for use in concerts.

 


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LN deploys ‘fan-first’ tech for Linkin Park tour

The first batch of tickets for Linkin Park’s 12th concert trek, the One More Light world tour, will be released exclusively via a Ticketmaster ‘Verified Fan’ presale, tour promoter Live Nation has announced.

Ticketmaster Verified Fan, launched earlier this year, is described by Live Nation as a “groundbreaking fan-first technology” that allows fans to “compete against other fans for tickets – not software”. For the Linkin Park presale, fanclub members will get priority access, but everyone else takes their place in a queue – with those willing to hand over more data, such as those signing in with Facebook, given a better spot in the line.

“The more you participate, the higher your spot in line and the better your access to tickets,” explains Live Nation. “Linkin Park Fan Club (LPU) members will get priority, but anyone can work their way to the top.”

Other ways to move up the queue include pre-ordering Linkin Park’s (pictured) new album (One More Light), inviting friends to sign up and by sharing news about the tour on social media and email. Those who end up in the top five will receive a package of signed merch from the band, with numbers one and two in each market getting to meet Linkin Park before the show.

“The more you participate, the higher your spot in line and the better your access to tickets”

Ticketmaster’s North America head of music, David Marcus, told Recode in March that the Verified Fan programme has so far been a success in reducing the amount of tickets scooped up by bots, which are now illegal to use in the US. Unlike traditional presales, an average of just 1% of tickets end up on the secondary market, he said.

“Bots are about speed, and if you make distribution about speed, you’re fighting a very hard battle,” he explained. “If you make it about identity, it’s much different.”

The One More Light world tour, supported by rapper Machine Gun Kelly, kicks off on 27 July at the Xfinity Center (19,900-cap.) in Boston, Masachussetts, finishing up at LA’s Hollywood Bowl on 22 October.

 


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US’s biggest convention unveils anti-touting plan

New York Comic Con (NYCC), the largest fan convention in North America, has unveiled new anti-touting measures ahead of its 2016 event.

Anyone wanting to attend in October will be required to fill in a ‘fan verification’ profile before they can buy tickets, with each ticket individually assigned to that profile. Tickets will only be sold online, and while buyers can buy more than one pass, they will be limited to one ticket per person per day.

In a statement posted on its website, organiser ReedPOP explains:

“While supply and demand still means that some fans who want to attend New York Comic Con might not get tickets or might not get the ticket type that they want, it’s our mission to eliminate (let’s be honest – the goal is to completely annihilate) the amount of scalpers and resellers who end up with tickets. So this year NYCC will be changing the way tickets are sold and requiring fan verification.

“It’s our mission to eliminate the amount of scalpers and resellers who end up with tickets”

“What does fan verification mean? It means we are requiring anyone interested in attending NYCC to fill out a profile between 20 May and 13 June. We recognise that this is an extra step before buying your tickets and requires more commitment from you, but we also know that as true fans of the show, you won’t mind making it tough for the supervillains out there. It means you guys have to do a bit more work to get your ticket, but it will help make sure NYCC tickets get into the hands of fans. We truly thank you for your maximum effort (as our favourite merc with the mouth would say).” (That’s Deadpool, for the non-comic-reading among you.)

Last year’s NYCC at the Javits Center was attended by 167,000 people over four days.

In April rival comic-con organiser Wizard World announced the launch of a Grimes-headlined concert series as it seeks to plug a £4.3m hole in its finances.